Three Years Down the Road

Anything interesting happen to you on this day, Cassidy?

Why, I’m glad you asked…

7 July, 2014, I headed out to Sterling, NJ, to see a doctor.  Actually, I was seeing her for the second time in two weeks because I’d had an initial consultation with her at the end of June.  This time I wasn’t going back for a check up, or for another consultation, or to even discuss possible medical options.

I was going there to get a shot.

As many of you know, during May of 2014 I decided to take a big step in my transition and get on the Estradiol train.  As Kerry can now tell you, Estradiol is the primary hormone found in that soup known as estrogen and it’s the most powerful of the lot.  You start taking that and before you know it, your body starts heading off down Girl Street.  And that was where I wanted to head, so the time came that in order to go that way I had to find a doctor.  Which I did.  In New Jersey.

And three years ago today I received my first injection.

It was really kind of interesting to watch her, my doctor, go through the steps I’d need to follow in order to inject myself in the leg.  I watched, I learned, and I sat there while I got the needle in the leg.  It was a life changing experience, it really was, and I was in sort of a daze all the way on the two-hour drive back to Harrisburg.

And since some of you don’t remember what I was like back there, here’s a reminder.

Man… I have a hard time believing I was this person.

 

Yep, that was me right after I returned home, fraying wig, old glasses, and bushy eyebrows to complete the look.  At this point in my life I was still going to work as “that other guy” and the next day I dressed like the person I used to pretend I was and headed off to work.

Only I was a little different.  And I’d get more different every day.

Two weeks later I had to return to my doctor’s office for another injection, only this time I was required to do the injection.  Which I did.  My doctor told me at the time that she expected me to get it right the first time because she knew I would.  I’m glad I didn’t let her down.

And that brings me to this point in time.  Three years later, I’m pretty happy with myself.  I’ve worked on a political campaign, I’ve marched against the Orange Menace, I’ve gotten more left and aware, and I’ve joined roller derby.  Oh, and I’m still writing after all these years.

Plus, I certainly look a lot better now than I did three years ago.

Yeah, I’m almost quite the looker right after rolling out of bed.

 

I don’t know what’s ahead.  Three years from now I’ll be 63 and likely doing much of the same things I’m doing now.  Maybe I’ll be published by then–maybe not.  Maybe I’ll have competed in a derby game–maybe not.  Maybe I won’t even be here–maybe not.

I don’t know:  I’m not Deanna so I can’t see the future.  All I can do is live from one moment to the next and hope for the best.

And when my fourth anniversary rolls around I’ll talk about it and shoot another picture of myself, just so I know what I look like.

Though I look a little strange when I’m shot through a dirty lens.

 

Readjusting the Curve

I will admit that my ideas are not always the best.  Allow me to explain:

We have reached the point in the current novel where it’s become known that Kerry’s parents are heading off to Australia and New Zealand for the Christmas holiday.  As it turns out Kerry’s grandparents are going to be on a cruise from San Fran to Panama City and back, so this leaves Kerry in the position of being abandoned by his folks, who are more or less telling him to go pound sand.  Knowing Kerry’s issues with abandonment the odds are good he’s not gonna handle this situation well even if he looks tough on the outside.  Because this is how Kerry is and he’s not changing anytime soon.

But what does this do for his holiday plans?

Leave it to renxkyoko to come up with the most obvious plan:  have Annie ask her parents if Kerry can comes to Pamporovo and spend the holidays with the Family Kirilovi.  Though the parents are not yet aware–at least they don’t know everything that’s happened to these two in the last couple of years–he is the future son-in-law, so maybe getting him used to being around Annie’s folks is a good idea.

And it is a good idea–

Only…  it wasn’t my original idea.

Oh, if you haven’t figured it out:

 

See, this part of the novel was figured out years ago and I was sticking with that plan.  What I had plotted out was that Kerry was going to fall on his sword and decide to stay at school, even though it bothered Annie a great deal to leave him behind.  Sure, Kerry fixes things up with getting her a computer so they can Skype, but still:  Annie goes home and Kerry stays behind ’cause he wants her to spend time with her parents and not make being there awkward for everyone.

Now, this isn’t that big of a deal–except for one thing.  Writing about Kerry being left behind at school requires haven’t a whole chapter that’s almost all Kerry, all the time, and after a while I found that to be a bit untenable.  Yes, Kerry is getting his own chapters, but Annie’s getting one as well, so that’s nicely balanced.

But Kerry at school alone sort of bothered me.  And as time went by it bothered me even more.

So when the suggestion came that Kerry should go stay with Annie I started thinking about the possibility.  And since you probably do know me, you’re aware that I spent a few days running ideas and scenarios around my head to see what happened.  And the most thought I gave the matter, the more I came to the conclusion:

Kerry should go spend the holidays with Annie and her parents.

The simple fact is this is their story.  And, as possible, that should happen together.  And how will they handle being under the watchful eye of Mama and Papa?  What sort of shenanigans can they get up to?  What sort of public fun will they encounter?  Let’s remember, Kerry’s never seen Annie in her natural environment, so is he gonna see a completely different person than the one he knows and loves?  Just imagine the first time Kerry has to wait in her sitting room for her to come out of her bedroom.  Will he consider it natural?  Or will he think it’s a little too much for this particular rich girl?

There you go:  I adjusted by curve and changed the story.

And, I believe, it’s gonna make it a better novel.

It will certainly make it a better holiday for two kids I know–

It’s a Freshie Thing

I’m back in Pennsylvania, which means I’m back to work.  In these days, work that only means getting up and going into the office every day, it also means I have training as a member of HARD: the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby team.  I know there’s probably a few of you who thought after I put up my first post, “Cassidy can’t really be serious about this, can she?”  The short answer to that: yes. The long answer to it?  I don’t think there is a long answer. Yes suffices.

Just so you get an idea of our practice schedule, Monday and Wednesday nights, every week, are mandatory.  That’s when everyone gets together and does their thing.  As a new person I’m usually with the other new people building up my skills, but as you’ll see we do get out there and work with the vets every so often.

But Tuesday nights are Fresh Meat nights, and that’s what I am: Fresh Meat.  Fresh meat is when you’re new on skates in your building up your skills and you’ve yet to be certified to get out there and tussle with the rest of the ladies.  And yes, in order to get on a track you have to be certified. As I go through this post I’ll discuss some of that.  What, did you think we just threw a bunch of women out on the course and let them beat the hell out of each other?  Nope, there are rules here!

So the first three days of this week are practice nights–something good to come back to after a week of no skating.  Monday has already segued into a kind of blur, but I made it through and you seen those pictures.  For my Tuesday night practice, however, I brought along my video camera, set it up on a tripod outside the rink, and turned it on.  The idea is that every so often I’ll videotape myself so I get an idea of what sort of progression I’m going through–if I’m actually progressing at all.  It’ll help me see where I need to work and what I need to develop.  Hey, professional athletes look at training videos of themselves all the time, so why shouldn’t I?

Plus, it allows me to show you, the Fans of my Blog, just what it is we go through when we’re out there on skates.  Because for damn sure I figure most of you would have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about if I didn’t show you some pretty images.

Let’s go to the video then!

Now first off I’ll tell you this: the video does not track me. In fact you’ll see us and me go off camera every so often, particularly in the majority of videos we’re actually moving across the short end of the ring from one wall to another.  But you will still get an idea of what we’re doing.  And I’ll fill in the blanks were necessary.

Right off the bat I come up to check on the camera just before we sit down and do a bit of stretching.  I’m learning rather quickly that stretching is important, particularly for my feet, because if you don’t go out and stretch properly you get real sore real fast.  And after last night I discovered a couple of slow laps around the track is a good way to get relaxed and let your feet get settled in so they don’t cramp up.

I will also point out that this is a good chance for you to see the a tank top I’m wearing, which is sort of a violet.  So when you’re looking for a skater out on the track, look for the violet tank top.  That’s me, in all my glory.

 

 

This was our first exercise of the night: Push Me, Push You.  It’s very simple: you partner up with someone and one of you becomes the pusher, while the other becomes the pushee.  You start out skating to laps around the rink, then switch position, so that if you were pushing you now going to get pushed for two laps by the person whom you were pushing.

Lap progression is simple: first it’s two laps, then three, then four, then five, then you work your way back to two.  I’ll work out the math for you: that’s forty-six laps.  Forty-six laps of you either pushing someone around the track, or being down in Derby position, a.k.a. in a squat with your head up looking forward in your arms to the side or in front of you.  So it’s not just the pusher who’s getting a workout, because trust me: after you’ve been in a squat for three or four laps the lactic acid starts building up your quads and you begin feeling the pain.  Or, if you’re like me, you also start feeling in your lower back.  And if you’re pushing you not only pushing the person in front of you but you pushing yourself.

Needless to say I did not make it all the way through the exercise.  I ended up having to drop out for about five or six laps before I got back in and finish it out.  Still, I managed to get in around thirty-five laps, which I consider something of an accomplishment.  Particularly since it was only my fourth practice night.

This is the longest of the video, running almost 18 minutes.  It starts just before we begin and ends just as Ida–our Freshie trainer–and I come to a one knee stop almost in front of the camera.  Enjoy.

 

 

Then it was time for us to get into a bit of skills work, but before that happened I came over to check the camera once again, mostly to see how the battery was doing.  As you’ll see I’m sweating and there are beads of water on my hair.  Let me tell you something about roller derby workout: you will drip sweat.  I have every night I’ve been out on the rink.  It has been a long time since I’ve drip sweat during a workout and in many ways, it’s an indication that you are working yourself.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what that pink thing is sticking out of my tank top/sports bra, that’s my mouthguard.  For these practices we have to wear a mouthguard–or at least it’s highly recommended.  After a while you don’t even know it’s in, but it is necessary. And I found that out the hard way last night…

 

 

So, skills. The first thing you’re going to see is meatball practice.  A meatball is when you drop down to one knee, or in some cases both, and then get back up without pushing off of the floor with your hands.  As we’re reminded, pushing off of the floor with your hands during a heat is a bad thing, because other ladies wearing skates might just accidentally roll over your fingers as her going around you. And do you really want your fingers rolled over by skates?  No, you do not.

Now, I don’t have that much of a problem pushing up with my left leg as I’m left-handed and that’s my more develop side.  I’m going to have to work on pushing up with my right leg, as it doesn’t have quite the same strength.  For certification we have to be able to get up from either leg to a standing position, without using her hands, and I believe we have to do it within three seconds as that’s how much time you have during a heat to get back on your skates if you go down.

 

 

The plow stop is a simple stop: you move your legs out to the side, point your toes inward, and then pull your legs together using the muscles of your inner thigh.  It looks simple, but looks are always deceiving.  I believe it was mentioned that for certification you have to be able to plow stop within a four-foot area, which means coming at speed and then bringing yourself to a stop.  The women who’ve been doing this for a while do make it look easy, and I hope to get to that point soon.

 

 

A T stop is when you take one of your feet, turn ninety degrees to your body, and then press that skate to the ground to bring you to a quick, dragging stop.  Even though we need this for certification we’re told not to use this during a heat, because if someone were to trip over your foot they could easily break your ankle.  Of the four T stops I attempted, only the last one was good; during the other three I allowed my skates to write on the inner wheels, which in turn twisted my foot–and that’s another good way of breaking your ankle.  A good T stop makes a lot of noise when it’s done right.

 

 

Gliding  is another thing we need for certification.  It’s simply being able to move along on one foot for certain amount of distance.  Again, I can glide pretty well on my left leg, but strength and balance are not my strong suit from my right. Last night, during practice, I spent more time gliding off my right leg that my left so that I can begin to learn how to balance and hold myself up.

 

 

Backwards skating: the bane of my existence.  Back in the day when I used to skate a lot I never got the hang of backwards skating.  Transitioning–the ability to spin around quickly from forward to backwards–is easy for me, but then again, I am something of an expert on transitioning.  Bi–who was with us last night helping Ida–told me I need to figure out how to swing my hips more and then it becomes a simpler matter of pushing off and going backwards.  This is something that I will need to be able to do to get certified.  No backwards skating; no hope of ever mixing it up on a track.

 

 

Egg shells are another simple maneuver.  You use your legs to move your feet outward and inward continuously, and if done right it will propel you forward–sometimes at a little more speed than what you’d realize you could generate.  There’s also one skate eggshell, or a sticky skate, where you just do that with one foot and alternate between feet.  As we learned Tuesday night, you need something like that when you doing pack work, because sticking a layout is a good way to not only trip another person, but to trip yourself up.

 

 

And speaking of pack skating… Almost got into a tight pack and went back and forth across the rink a few times so that we can get an idea of what it’s like.  You need to do this because this is a big part of what blockers and the pivot–four of the people on a team–do.  At least until one of those two pesky jammer–the team member who scores points–gets past you.  At which point things get crazy.

You will see that one member of our team went down but that it wasn’t a catastrophe.  I’ve already went down in a line skate once, but on Monday night all us Fresh Meat did a skate line around the rink many times, even having a chance to weave in and out between people as we moved away to the front.  Which, I have to tell you, was a lot of fun.

 

 

And finally, the end. This was right when we were getting ready to do about twenty minutes of stretching after all the skating, and several of my teammates managed to get on camera.  As I said in a Facebook post last night, even when we’re dead tired we still know how to find time to have a good laugh.

 

 

That was my Tuesday night.  Last night, Wednesday night, it was a bit different situation as we are working with the vets.  And here they are, getting their gear on–

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVV09aKgboW/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

–While I’m just sitting off to the side all by myself, snapping selfies before I got out on the floor.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVV1FEWABBB/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

It was a bit different situation than what we had the night before.  We started out by teaming up with the veteran and we do a strength and aerobic exercises.  While one stands on the sidelines doing strength work–squats, push-ups, leg lifts, whatever–the other person skates.  We go through that progression of laps again, this time two, three, four, five, six laps and then back down to two.

Although I was the last skater off the rink, I finished all my laps, and I did so with a lot of encouragement from my partner.  One thing to say about roller derby: all the women there are giving you a tremendous amount of encouragement while you’re busting your butt to get into shape and develop your skills.  In case you need me to do the math for you, you skate thirty-four laps.

We went through a lot of her skill training as well.  During some of the skill training I look like a hot mess, but I will improve.  A lot of these moves are nothing more than a combination of balance in developing the proper muscle memory, and that takes time. I have to remind myself not to think I suck because I’m not getting these moves right off the bat.  I haven’t been an athletic person for decades, so there’s no way in hell I’m picking this up right away.  It will take time; it’s a learning process.

And I learned one thing in a big way last night.  I talk about derby position.  That’s where you get down in a squat, sort of moving your weight a little bit back toward your butt so that your center of mass is somewhere over your skates, and keeping your head up and looking straight forward while you’re going around the track.  We are told not to lean forward, because leaning forward means you’re probably going to fall forward, and if you fall forward at speed he could hurt…

Last night we played a game that everyone called Highlander. The rules are simple.  There are two pool noodles on the floor.  When the whistle blows skaters pick up the pool noodles and proceed to hit other skaters to get them out.  When the whistle blows again the noodles are dropped and upon the whistle being blown after that, they are picked up again, onward and so forth and so on.

Well, during our second game one of the pool noodles happened to be directly in front of me as the “pickup whistle” blew.  Which meant I leaned down to pick it up–oh, I should say, I leaned forward to pick it up. At speed.  While not having good balance.

You can guess the rest.  I went down pretty hard falling forward the entire way.  I managed to get my knees and my elbows under me a little bit, but I still hit with enough force that both my jaw and my nose made contact with the floor. However, I had my mouthguard in and as I started falling I clamped down with my jaw so I didn’t rattle my teeth, and knowing to get my arms under me a little bit managed to keep me from smashing face first into the rink.  Even as it was, when I got home I noticed there was a bit of dried blood inside the right nostril of my nose.  If I had fallen correctly I could’ve broken it quite easily.

And that, ladies, is why we wear a mouthguard.  It’s also why we don’t lean forward.  As you can imagine, I won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

Anyway, I made it through practice:

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVWDNdvgYyV/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

And even got a chance to show you just how much we sweat, particularly under our knee pads.  I take two bottles of water with me to practice and last night I went to one and a half of them.  Training is hard work, yo!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVWG17Kg0xE/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

So this gives you a bit of an idea of what I’m doing.  To some of you it may seem like torture, and there are few times when it’s actually felt a bit like torture.  But even though I walk out of the ring tired, the two weeks of training I’ve done has actually left me feeling pretty good about myself.  There’s a lot of encouragement coming from your derby teammates, and it empowers you to work even harder to become better skater. And by becoming a better skater, we get that much closer to being certified to actually skate in a meet.

And ultimately that is my goal: to be able to get out there in full gear with the rest of my teammates and help do my best to bring glory back to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  But before I can get to that point, I have to learn the basics.

And at the moment, that is exactly what I am doing.

Up On the Coming

This is one of those “I don’t know what to do for a post today, so here’s hoping I can pull something out of my butt today” posts, which I don’t have often, but which do come every so often.

I’m thinking here–really I am.

And then it hit me:  why not talk about what happened yesterday–

What did happen yesterday?  Glad you asked.  See, I’m a busy person:  I’ve got this novel going on, and I do TV recaps–of which I need to do two this weekend–and I’m ten scenes into this mermaid story that I’m about a day behind on, so I need to catch up on that.  Needless to say, I’ve got a lot going on in my life even though I bitch a lot about nothing going on.

Now, Reny–my long time reader who reads just about everything–had some confusing questions for me.  See, I have a Penny in my Foundations novels–Penny Rigman, who lives in England–and Penny the 9 year old mermaid in my mermaid story, and Reny was maybe a little confused that both girls were the same.  I had to point out that, no, they aren’t, it’s different universes, and the kicker of them all, Albuquerque Penny–the mermaid–is nine and white, while Salem Penny is a teenager and black.

What was her response?  “I didn’t know Salem Penny was black.”

I had to think about that for a minute, because I was certain when I introduced Alex and her in Berlin I’d mentioned she was black.  And I did–in a roundabout way.  When I first introduced Penny I mentioned that both her parents were from Barbados, which has a population that’s about 95% black.  I checked a few other places and nope, it seems like I never bring up her ethnicity again.  Because why?  It’s really not that big of a deal considering at school the majority of the kids are people of color.

And then…  I remembered Hermione.

You remember Hermione?  The witch from Harry Potter who everyone thought was white but ended up being played by a black woman in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which then led to J. K. Rowling more or less saying, “Well, I never said Hermione was white, did I?” and causing a large segment of that fandom to lose it hard as the arguments over her ethnicity started.

The way I saw it, I was setting up the same problem–

Please.  Hermione doesn’t need that shit again.

Yeah.

Figuring I didn’t need that to happen again, I got into the B Level novel, went to the “Welcome to Berlin” section of the story, and changed Penny’s introduction to say, without a doubt, that her family’s from Barbados and, oh yeah, she’s black.  I also changed something about Alex as well, because once you put about three hundred thousand words between sections you sometimes forget things.  And I didn’t want to do that, either.

That was me last night, fixing stuff in my novels and making certain I get it all right as much as possible.  Because what’s the point if you don’t? Michael Cimino said something like that while filming Heaven’s Gate, though I’m unsure if he was referring to the movie or all the blow everyone was doing.

I know I’m not doing blow, so getting it all right must have something to do with my writing.

It must.

How Green Are My Fantasies 

Strangeness is afoot today because I woke up this morning not certain what I wanted to say, and I’m still not certain.  Although I can point out that I finished the first scene of Chapter Twelve last night–

‘Tiss but a short thing, relatively speaking.

I haven’t put anything together for the Science March yet because I feel like I’m recovering from that still.  I’ve come to realize that I have a shitload of stuff going on in my life, and I need to find some balance before my real recapping work starts this summer.  I swear, this girl never seems to have a down moment.

Let’s talk about writing.  In fact, let’s talk about a particular genre of writing with which I was once involved…

At one time I was a pretty good erotica writer.

Now, I don’t mean like I did a great job writing Fifty Shades of Gray style stories.  I’ve tried my hand at a few of those and it didn’t turn out well.  See, for me to really be good, I need to get into fantasy, or at least something with a bit of unrealness to it.  I just can’t do real life.

Suggestive Amusements was like that.  One of the classical muses comes to Las Vegas and helps out a struggling writer and all is well.  Oh, and there was a bit of a lover’s triangle in there as well and not a bit of sex, either.  I had a lot of fun writing it, coming up with histories for a few of my characters, having my muse characters–and at least one goddess–have conversations, and I used the story to work out some frustrations I had with one job.

I haven’t written anything like that since.

Since 2013 I’ve been preoccupied with a little opus that seems to take up all my writing time.  When I’m not working on the novel I’m doing TV recaps that also keep me pretty busy.  There isn’t time to go back and work on extemporaneous stories that take away from the trials and tribulations of my witchy kids.

And, the reality of writing being what it is, I haven’t even thought about penning another story.

Hold on there…  That’s not exactly true.

Of late there’s been another story bouncing about in my head that is, more or less, completely thought out.  If I actually sat down and wrote it out, it might take me a week to finish and another week to polish.  I thought this particular fantasy erotica story would vanish much like the one before had come and gone over the period of a few days, but no:  it’s still there.  Demanding attention.  Demanding to be let out.

I really don’t want to waste my time with something that I feel is gonna be a diversion of time that can be better spent doing other things, but dammit if this won’t let me go.  Maybe it’s time to admit that there are moments in your life when you have to listen to your muse and take the road not traveled in a while, visit that path, enjoy the sights–

And get a Wattpad account.

Seeing Your Way Down the Time Lines

Today it’s a different kind of video because I’m taking you to a place you’ve heard of, but rarely seen:

My time lines.

So get ready for a nearly hour-long trip through the world I created.  Enjoy.

 

Divining the Divine: Diversions Among the Devine

It’s now Wednesday and I have tonight and two more nights to get everything together for the big march on Saturday.  The cold that has been coming on for the last few days is still sort of lingering, but I think I’m holding it off successfully.  I may end up marching on Saturday with a bit of discomfort and maybe even a stuffy nose, but I will be in DC.

The plan now is to pick up some trail mix and a few power bars so I have something to eat, and possibly a water bottle.  I still have to print out my passenger manifest, which I intend to do on Friday.  I’m considering taking a cab to the rendezvous point, or possibly even bring over if there’s anyone out on the road at six in the morning.  And then finalize my attire on Friday night, because I’m going to need to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get ready on Saturday as our buses are leaving Harrisburg at six.

Soon, so much to do.  Chances are good I’ll get it done.

Today is also a big excerpt.  Were down near the end of Deanna’s scene for the first day of class, and given what is about to be mentioned it would be ridiculous to split it up into parts.  We know it started out with someone making a smart ass comment, but what you don’t realize is that Deanna is ready for such comments–and she has a bit of history when it comes to “burning” a witch over them…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Several students rolled their eyes while a few more groaned. The two students who knew her the best, however, were less circumspect in hiding their displeasure, and didn’t care if their outburst saw them getting into trouble.

Annie half turned and glared out of the corner of her eyes as she literally spit the words in Franky’s direction. “Proklet nevezh fanatik.”

While Kerry wasn’t certain of what Annie had said, he wanted to make sure there was no mistaking his comment. “Way to out yourself as an asshat, Franky.”

“That’s enough, you two.” Deanna didn’t want to show favoritism to Annie and Kerry in class, and couldn’t allow their outbursts to go unchecked. “Come see me as soon as class is over.” She then turned her attention to Franky. “By ‘Your people’, I assume you mean people from the Middle East, or Muslims, or both. Would that be a correct assumption?”

Franky shrugged as if the subject had already bored him. “Yeah, whatever.”

This wasn’t the first time Deanna had been asked this particular question and knew it wouldn’t be the last, so as she’d done in the past, the seer moved to make quick business of Franky. “You are right away: there are certain elements of the faith in which I was brought up that would say because I can do magic and I am involved in divination, I am well on the way to my eternal downfall. However—” She levitated her tablet to her and pulled up some information from the school database. “You were raised a Protestant, weren’t you?” She read something on display. “Anglican Church of Canada, am I correct?”

He was suddenly looking a bit uncomfortable. “How do you know that?”

“Because The Foundation compiled a great deal of information about you before you even came to school—and since they know, I now know.” Deanna gave a mysterious smile. “Is it true?”

 

The Foundation knows everything about you, Franky!  Doesn’t everyone at Salem realize this by now?  Kerry knows he’s been followed since a young age, and it goes without saying that The Foundation has probably been aware of Annie’s doings since she was a toddler.  There’s also a fair amount of certainty that they have monitored everyone who has ever walked through Founder’s Gate for several years before they were outed as witches.  Which means they know what sort of church you went to, Franky, and they would know if he was some sort of crazy religious person at this point.  What they would do with him if he was a crazy religious person is open to interpretation, and in certain it’s something that has happened at least once or twice in the past.

And speaking of religion… Well, get ready for some lessons on what to do if you ever encounter a witch.  Which everyone at the school does on a daily basis.

 

Once more Franky shrugged. “Yeah, it’s true. So?”

“Then you must remember some of your scripture teachings—or didn’t you study the Old Testament?” She didn’t wait for her student to answer the question. “Leviticus 20:27 is very clear on the subject: ‘A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.’ Now, while I’m not a necromancer, I am most certainly what one would consider a medium. Would you like to go outside, gather some stones, and lead the rest of the class in putting me to death?”

She allowed a few moments for Frank his discomfort to grow before continuing. “The verse that is most definitive on what to do with witches is Exodus 22:18: ‘You shall not permit a sorceress to live.’ Look about the room.” She held her arms wide. “Ten of your levelmates have moved on to Professor Lovecraft’s C Level Sorcery class, so you need to put about a third of the class to death.” Deanna moved towards Annie and Kerry and stopped just a couple of meters from them. “You might consider putting the two sorceresses in your level who are the most experienced with Morte spells to death first, as I’m certain they would take exception to your plan to kill their fellow sorceresses.”

Annie let out a short, harsh laugh before looking up at Deanna. “He could try killing me.”

Kerry half turned towards the now squirming boy. “’Try’ being the operative word.”

Deanna gave a short chuckle. “Maybe that’s something you need to try outside of this class.” She stepped away from the couple. “You should speak to Vicky about the things she learned about witchcraft while practicing Judaism as a child. Did you know the Talmud believes that most Jewish women used to practice witchcraft regularly? As far as it was concerned we couldn’t help ourselves; it comes naturally. And any gathering of women was considered suspicious; Pesahim 111a says that if two women are sitting at a crossroads facing each other, they are most certainly engaged in witchcraft.

“There is even a bit of an interesting connection between the Apocrypha and the Quran: it’s where humans learned witchcraft. The Apocrypha says that women learned it from angels, or Nefilim, as they were called, and the end for those women was spelled out in the Testament of Reuben, 5:5-6, in particular this passage: ‘For every woman who carries out these schemes will suffer eternal punishment, for it was thus that they led astray with their witchcraft the Nefilim before the flood.’ Not a very nice way to go, don’t you think?

“The Holy Quran looks at the origin of witchcraft a little differently: it said that sorceresses were taught witchcraft by jinn. And to do so pretty much damns you, as a portion of sura 2, ayah 102 states: ‘But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.’ To put it another way, we never realized that we were damning ourselves when we learn magic.”

Deanna ran her right hand casually through her hair, brushing it back from her ear and exposing a dangling gold earring. “I don’t know about you, Franky, but I was born with my gifts: I didn’t learn them from a jinn. But in case you were wondering, I have met a jinn and they are not the sort of creatures you want to learn magic from—and I don’t believe the one I met would have taught me had I asked. Since I was born with these talents, since I was actually starting to have visions before I knew what they were, I don’t see how they could be viewed as something horrible. It’s like saying I’m a terrible person because my eyes are a different color than yours, and because of that difference I need to be put to death. That’s ridiculous.”

 

Deanna has her quotes down, and not just from Christianity but from two major religions as well.  And believe it or not–though you know what I’m about to tell you is true, so the chances are you will believe it–those few paragraphs above pertaining to the preaching found in four different text took me about three hours of hunting down and research to make certain I got them right.  And not only did I need to determine the right, but I had to figure out how to fit them into the context of the story.  There was also the matter of deciding which translation to use, ’cause trust me, all this stuff has at least four or five different translations available, and each translation says something a little different.

I was surprised to discover the Talmud believed that nearly every woman was a witch.  It’s just something we do, I guess.  And while I knew about the Quran’s version of magic being learned from jinn–who were in league with demons, by the way–I did not know that the Apocrypha believed we had learned it from angels.  It all gets rather complicated after a while, but the core concept is the same: if you’re a witch, you’re bad.  And we know what folks back then loved to do to bad people–

 

She began to turn away and stopped halfway through. “By the way—” She gazed at Franky indirectly. “That quote from Exodus is usually translated these days to mean one should not let a witch live and not just sorceresses. Unless I’m mistaken, Franky, you’re a witch, and that means there are a certain number of your people who practice your faith that might be just as likely to kill you as those who practice my faith would kill me.” A smile gradually formed upon her face. “And unlike your scriptures, there’s nothing in the Holy Quran about killing witches.”

Deanna finished turning it and walked towards the large group of pillows in the middle front of the classroom. “I don’t mind having conversation on faith and how it relates to our unique positions in life, but anyone wishing to try and have that sort of conversation in this class is doing nothing more than wasting time: the classes and mine.” She stopped just short of the pillow pile and faced Franky, and for the first time there was the barest hint of anger in her eyes. “Don’t do this again, Franky, or you will find one of your proficiencies taking a hit for the day.”

She covered the last couple of meters to her seat of pillows and sat, folding her legs in the lotus position. “Now, who’s up to learning on how to see the future?” She gave her right hand a slight twist and the light level in the windowless room dropped by about a quarter. Using the same hand she snapped her fingers and a book appeared floating mere centimeters above them, and she levitated it towards her. “Get out your books: we have a lot to cover this year.”

 

There you go: you go to Deanna’s class, they get a history lesson concerning how different religions view dealing with everyone in her class.  It goes without saying that over the centuries anyone defined as a witch tended to get an express ticket to the afterlife, because like Exodus says, don’t let those witches live.  Which is one of the other reasons why The Foundation is one the great links to keep their existence, and the existence of their people, hidden from the Normals.  They hide in plain sight and have learned how, over the last two hundred years, to use their abilities to cover up their existence, as well as the existence of other entities like themselves.  And they’ve obviously gotten good at it, because if they can hide something the size of the School of Salem from the people living just on the other sides of the main wall, they can hide themselves from the rest of the world.

And this means they can go about teaching their kids in relative peace without fear of reprisal from the Normals.

"Sorry, you people without magical ability, but the witch killings have been put on hold--FOREVER."

“Sorry you people without magical ability, but here the witch killings have been put on hold–FOREVER.”

And now that we know where Deanna is taking her class, we have one last class to visit–

Wouldn’t you know it deals with those sorceresses we can’t suffer to live?

Divining the Divine: Seeing Where We’re Going

Always leave with the good news first, so that’s exactly what I’ll do.  Chapter Eight is done, finished, finito, fin.  It’s been a bit of a struggle to get through it, and the last scene has seen me either writing twelve hundred words in a couple of hours or three hundred words in a couple of hours; there’s been little in between.

And there was something about that last scene–

If I stare at these numbers maybe they'll tell me...

If I stare at these numbers maybe they’ll tell me…

Oh yeah: the last scene is the longest in the novel, and it’s nearly twice the length of the next longest scene in this chapter.  Why is that?  Because I had to do something they didn’t want to do, and it took me a while to do it.  Which is to say, something sort of bad happens in that last scene and I really had to work my way through it.  I hated when I have to do that.

That means Chapter Nine is gonna start tonight.  The chapter title is Freaky Friday, but you can rest assure you there’s nobody swapping going on here.  What is happening is it’s the first Friday of the first week of school, and that means we’ll get a peek at what’s going on at the start of Advanced Flight Two, will see the beginning of the first Midnight Madness of the year, Kerry will get a chance to find out how someone else’s coming out went over the last summer, and Annie is going to be asked an extremely important question.

Sounds dreadfully important, doesn’t it?  Only time will tell.

And speaking of time–we were speaking about time, weren’t we?  Or was it just some strange woman talking about the future?  Because yesterday we left Deanna beginning her monologue about what to expect in her class, Introduction to Divination.  And maybe now is a good time to see what she has to say–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

She straightened and clasped her hands in front of her once more. “Sounds dreadfully dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, in a way it is a bit dramatic. I mean, you’re seeing your future—or are you? You can also be seeing someone else’s future—but is that true as well? The future is a nebulous thing and it’s affected by the actions you take today. So is always a possibility that what you’re seeing may not be true—and yet, at the same time, it could very well be true. And that’s because—” Deanna pointed at the ginger haired boy at the front of the class. “Kerry, what is time?”

He glanced down at the floor for a moment as he tried, and failed, to keep from smiling too broadly. “It’s a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.”

Deanna chuckled. “I somehow knew you’d have the answer.” She faced the rest of the class. “While that’s a rather simplified and somewhat entertaining description, it’s also extremely true: it is impossible to define time in absolute terms. Even when you see the future in a vision there’s always the possibility that it won’t be the actual future, but rather a possible future that may come about due to, or in despite, your actions.

“This class is meant to address all the different matters concerning divination. You learn about the different ways you can channel your Sight, how you can trigger a vision, how to interpret one, and most of all, what you should and shouldn’t do if you have a vision. Because we don’t know the future, we can’t say what actions will either make it happen, or prevent that from happening. And that is likely going to be the hardest lessons I will teach you this year, for we have a natural curiosity about the future.”

 

This last paragraph is one thing that Deanna keeps harping on constantly: even though you had a vision of the future, you’re not certain what steps need to be taken to get to that point.  And when that occurs, it becomes almost impossible to determine what one should do to reach the point they’ve seen in their vision.  Like with Annie and Kerry: they’ve had a vision of them getting married–well, technically, not getting married, but the aftermath of getting married–and it seen themselves flying in to what they now figure is Paris and then going to a hotel for the evening.  Those are all pretty simple visions, but what isn’t simple is how do they get to those points?  No one really knows, and given that marriage is at least five years away at the soonest, there’s no way in hell they could ever predict that their next action is going to bring about that vision coming true.

It’s never as simple as, “Don’t go out on dangerous missions,” because come the day after you turned on a dangerous mission you can find yourself being run over by a car–and that will probably put the wedding vision on hold, possibly permanently.  The future is a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff, and there’s no way in hell you gonna navigate around it unless you know how to navigate.  And that’s what this class is going to teach the kids.  Or at least Deanna will try to do her best to teach the kids, because as we all know some kids are unteachable.

Maybe one of them even shows up and this next set of paragraphs…

 

Though she didn’t walk about the room, Deanna shifted her weight from one leg to another as she spoke. “Every witch has the capacity for Sight, but just like with crafting magic, Sight comes differently to all of us. For some it never develops, or will develop to the point we may have only one or two meaningful visions throughout your entire life. For others it develops to the point where they can only have a meaningful vision with an enormous amount of triggering—and even then their visions are limited and often ill-defined. And there are some who can only have visions under certain conditions which involve either helpful triggers or dreams.” Though she didn’t look directly at them, her eyes shifted toward Annie and Kerry. “I’ve already encountered a few students who’ve fallen into this last category.

“There are only a few of you who’ll make it to the point where you become what is known as an Active Seer, a person to whom visions come without any prodding and tend to take over your life for a few seconds when you least expect it. I can’t say for certain if there’s anyone in this room who could be considered an Active Seer because they are rare: extremely rare. Maybe one of you is like that, but I doubt if I’d be more than that in this room.

“Not only will we learn about divination, but I will attempt to trigger you all to get you to experience a vision. Some of these triggers will use runes, some will use deep trances, and some will require the use of—” Deanna pointed to a point between two of the doors. “Ouija boards. Yes, while a Ouija board cannot be used to summon a demon, it can be used to trigger a vision, something that Professor Lewiston and I joke about quite often.”

Deanna stopped moving about and glanced around the room. “Does anyone have any questions?” Two seconds later a hand shot up Deanna didn’t need to check her attendance because she knew the owner of this hand. “Yes, Franky?”

Franky Smith cleared his throat. “Does it ever bother you that because you’re a witch your people want to kill you?”

 

It’s nice to know that in my world a Ouija board will not summon a demon, but it can cause you to have a vision of the future.  And now that I pointed that out, you know there’ll be at least one scene where a Ouija board is used to bring about a vision.  So what does one use to someone a demon?  That will be answered in a later book, you can rest assured.

And now this last comment with Franky being a smart ass, which is something that Franky does rather well.  But you have to realize that this isn’t the first time that Deanna’s been asked about “your people” wanting to do her harm because she is a witch–

She’s so good at dealing with the subject that I just had to write about it…

Getting Your Art On: From Casual to Work

This is the first excerpt that shows the first day of class for my C Levels.  I’ve stated elsewhere that it only took a hundred thousand words to get to this point, and it’s a truism as the hundred thousand word mark was passed while writing this excerpt.  Also, this excerpt comes from the shortest scene in Chapter Eight, which ended up exactly sixty-nine words short of three thousand.

And since we are finally into classes, now would be a good time to actually see the schedule that Annie and Kerry are going to carry through 2013 and 2014.  Here is their class schedule:

Because you know I have it.

Because you know I have it.

This excerpt takes place in the very first class on the very first day of C Levels: Introduction to Art.  You know this is one of the classes that Annie and Kerry are taking because it’s in bold, and any class that isn’t in bold are the classes but the other C Levels are taking.  I don’t have it marked but the Monday afternoon class for Annie and Kerry is study hall or additional elective period for everyone else.

A few things to point out here: Individual Cross Training is the personal sessions that Annie and Kerry use last year to cross train each other, with Annie showing Kerry sorcery and Kerry showing Annie transformation magic.  Now it’s been formalized as the time they need to use to get together.  Also, Annie’s time with Helena learning Advanced Sorcery has become formalized as well.  It should also be noted that since there cross training class actually takes place the day before their learning what they should be cross training, it’s a given that they are probably showing each of these magical moves before they get to that time.

Thursday is a bit of a wild card day for them.  Normally they would have the entire day off, because neither are taking regular Formulistic Magic or regular Spell Casting.  Instead, they’re getting shanghaied by Helena to do minion work in A and B Level Sorcery.  This isn’t going to be an every week thing, which means they will get some downtime on Thursdays.  Or maybe they won’t, because Thursday morning is also A Level Transformation Magic as well as B Level Spell Casting, so there is a distinct possibility that if they are slinging dark magic on Thursday mornings with Helena, they could be doing minion work for either Jessica or Wednesday.

Lastly we have the Friday afternoon class: Special Astral Training.  This is the class that Deanna told Annie she was going to teach, and this once again takes up some free time the kids could spend together.  Annie at least gets Friday mornings to relax while Kerry is off in Advanced Flight Two, and both kids are pretty much guaranteed to have their Tuesday mornings free, though that is also the same time Wednesday teaches Basic Spell Casting to the A Levels, so they could find themselves getting roped in the minion work there.

In short, the only free time may have guaranteed are Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, and once racing season starts in October, Kerry can pretty much kiss is free time goodbye as far as Saturday afternoon is concerned.  This is about as wicked a schedule as anyone at Salem has ever undertaken, and you can bet the kids are going to be watched closely for signs of burnout.

Today’s the first day in art class, and even though we’ve encountered Professor Matthias Ellison in the last two novels, we haven’t actually seen him at work.  Well, that’s all about to change–sorta.  Because first I need to get a few rumors of the way…

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The twenty-four students who made the C Level of the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning began wandering into Studio #1, on the north side of the first floor of the History and Arts Building, at least ten minutes before eight. The majority of the students were unsure what would happen in this class: the synopsis in their travel packages stated they would develop their “artistic talent”, but said little else.

Upper level students told a different story: the C Levels would learn to sketch and paint, and they would learn various methods for doing both. They also had wildly varying opinions on Professor Ellison. Some said he was far too laid back to the class and didn’t really seem to care if you learned to draw or paint well. Others said that he could be a pain in the ass and would often badger selected students to improve their work or get out of his class. Two E Levels from Mórrígan related a story that was known to many in the school: that the year before he become so frustrated with one of the then C Levels attempt at painting that he pushed the student back from her canvas and Fireballed it into ashes.

After dinner Kerry and Annie asked Penny, Alex, and Jario if that particular story was true and all three not only confirm that it was, but gave the name and coven of the student: Maritza Iglesias from Blodeuwedd. Alex stated that after the incident Maritza was so distraught by the incident that Professor Ellison needed to have someone come out from the hospital and take her back to the Great Hall so she could “rest”. Penny said it was the damnedest thing she had ever seen and as soon as Maritza left the room Professor Ellison acted as if nothing had happened.

After hearing all the stories Annie and Kerry found it difficult to believe that this was the same person that they had not only known for two years, but who seemed to always treat them with the utmost respect as well as showing a great deal of interest in their work. There were a few incidences in the past where, while preparing for Ostara, Professor Ellison would come into where they were working and critique their work, and each time this occurred he always gave positive reinforcement.

Though as Kerry indicated, having him come in and see what they were working on for a presentation at the Ostara Festival was far different than being in the classroom where the professor had to evaluate them based upon the school’s established seven proficiencies, and it could be that the Professor Ellison they knew as a mentor was far different than the Professor Ellison they were about to meet as an instructor.

 

It’s not unusual for these stories to circulate.  After all, the only exposure Annie and Kerry have ever had to Professor Ellison has been during their time preparing for Ostara, and it would make sense that the last thing the art and music instructor wants to come across as is and out-of-control prima donna.  He wants kids relaxed and confident, and he can’t do that if he’s raging out and throwing fireballs.  At least I can say the words I ever had an instructor do in any class I took was throw chalk around the room when he couldn’t get his point across.  Though I do seem to remember one teacher tossing all of his books into the trash and stocking out the room for five minutes–

 

Studio #1 was a bit like the room used for class in the Transformation Center: it was a large open area filled with work cubicles, though the cubicles themselves were more areas his dimensions were taped off on the floor and within those dimensions set a large table, a comfortable swivel chair, and a low supply cabinet.

Annie was familiar with this layout, as it was very similar to the private studios she had used in this building and in the Auditorium while working on her paintings and drawings for Ostara. She also noticed as they entered the room that there was a placard with the names on the top of each desk, and that Kerry and she shared adjoining workspaces.

The students were still settling into their workspaces when Professor Ellison entered the room from another entrance in the back. He was dressed in khakis and tennis shoes and topped off the ensemble with a light blue polo shirt, giving some credence to descriptions of him as being “laid back”. He carried a tablet with him—something that all instructors of Salem did—but rather than hold it or place it on his desk in the corner of the room, he levitated it and wrapped in enchantment around it which kept it just off to his right at all times, so that no matter where he moved the tablet was in the same spot in relation to him.

It was only after watching him for a few seconds that Annie realized she had never seen Professor Ellison craft magic—and based upon the look on Kerry face, it was obvious he’d never seen the professor craft, either.

 

The laid-back art instructor:  they even act that way at witch schools.  And why didn’t they have art at Hogwarts?  Hell, they didn’t even have math, which makes you wonder how the hell any of them could balance their checkbooks.  Then again they didn’t write checks and all their money was gold, so how the hell did they go into a chips shop and get lunch?  Or get groceries?  Ah, that’s fiction:  my kids are in the real world.

Tomorrow we get the professor’s opening statements to the class–and as you might imaging, he’s quite passionate about his field…

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: All Dressed Up

Let’s get the personal business of the way first.  The stuff I need for my weekend Women’s March on Washington–which occurs in a little less than two weeks–has begun arriving.  Tonight I get my portable phone charger; tomorrow I get my wall socks; and I’m waiting for my thermal underwear and mukluk insoles to ship out.  Yesterday, however, I received my first item:

I have the Pussy Hat!

I have the Pussy Hat!

Yes, the Pussy Hat is here and while it’s a little big it’s still wearable.  One shipment I’m worried about is the thermal undergarments: they’re coming from Land’s End and I haven’t received notification that they’ve shipped.  I’m hoping that all ships this week, and the one shipment I can do without are the new insoles for my mukluks, because all have wool socks as of tomorrow.

And the totally ironic thing is the weather for 21 January in DC is expected to be somewhere between 50 and 55 F/10 to 13 C.  If we get those terms I may not even need the thermal undergarments.  But it’s always nice to have them just in case.

Now, let’s finish up but I was in the middle of yesterday.

There’s about a thousand words left in this last seen, which just happened to be the first of Chapter Eight.  Last night they ran off another eight hundred and fifty words, and I figure I might have another fifteen hundred to two thousand words to write to finish off this current scene and the chapter, at which point I can move into Chapter Nine, which finishes off Week One and it’s the kids to the Midnight Madness.

Things are zipping right along.

So, let’s finish up with the meeting in the Witch House and see how Helena and Erywin are dealing with Kerry’s particular situation…

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena moved her chair closer to her desk so she could lean her arms against the top. “No one is thinking any less of you, Kerry, and no one in this room believes they can’t count upon you. As you indicated, your main concern is whatever group you’re working with—but you need to watch your own arse as well.”

A concerned look came over Erywin’s face. “If you’re feeling a little bit of trepidation about any, you and I can always speak. I mean, I do have a little bit of an understanding of what it’s like dealing with what might seem unusual emotions.”

Annie leaned so she was a bit closer to Kerry and could speak softly. “Something to consider, my love. And it couldn’t hurt to discuss these things with another person.”

He gave a slight nod. “Maybe later.”

Helena yawned for a few seconds. “Oh, sorry: didn’t get much sleep last night. Anyway, I have given you notification that you are in an on-call status with the Guardians as of this moment. Congratulations.” She threw up her hands in mock cheer. “You’re now like hundreds of other Sentinels wondering if you called out on a field operation any time soon.”

 

It seems as if this is about the third or fourth attempt to get Kerry to “talk things out”.  There’s a bit of a conundrum here with the boy, because for all of his life he’s been conditioned not to talk about his feelings, simply because his parents don’t want to hear about them.  Now he’s starting to find himself wading into some shit and he’s hesitant to put his feelings on display.  Sure, he might talk to Annie, but she’s not a trained counselor.  Getting him to open up to adults who really do want to help him is going to be something of an ongoing battle.

And with Helena’s last statement Annie hear something that may or may not be good for her–

 

Hearing the phrase “on-call status” made Annie wonder about their actual standing with The Foundation intelligence division. “Does this mean we’re—?”

“Actual Guardians?” A faint smile crossed Helena’s lips. “That was the last thing is gonna bring up during this meeting. You’ve both been moved to Provisional status, which is to say you’re old enough to go out on field operations, but you’re not old enough to be sworn in as actual operatives.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have to be considered emancipated before the Guardians will allow you to take the oath. One of the reasons you are allowed a Right of Refusal is because you haven’t reached the Age of Emancipation, but once you hit that then you can have the Guardians Oath administered and become full-time Sentinels.” Helena chuckled as she scratched her arm. “Of course, once you are full time that means that you can’t turn down any missions unless you have a damn good reason. Taking that oath means you get all those nice Guardian benefits without being able to walk away from the shit missions when you feel like it’s necessary”

“I didn’t expect it to be perfect.” Annie gave a slight shrug. “One has to take the bad with the good.”

Helena raised one eyebrow. “What do you expect the good to be in the Guardians?”

Annie had her answer ready. “To be able to protect The Foundation and its people, and by extension Normals who know nothing of our existence but benefit from our largess.”

Helena turned to Kerry. “What about you, Ginger Boy? What does serving the Guardians mean to you?”

Kerry had an answer ready as well. “By protecting the interests of The Foundation we keep the rest of the world safe. We’re not protecting a single country; we’re basically protecting people the world from the bad guys who would like to turn the lives of Normals to… shit.”

It was evident from Helena’s reaction that she hadn’t expected these responses. She turned to Erywin. “I really expected something a little more boilerplate.”

“You should know better.” Erywin chuckled. “You dealing with two highly motivated teens here.”

“Obviously.” Helena swiveled her chair back towards the two across the desk. “All right, is all I have to say. If it becomes necessary to have another meeting like this in the future, I’ll send you both a secure email with nothing more than the time: you’ll know where were going to meet.”

Both Annie and Kerry nodded with her replying. “Always here.”

 

At times it’s interesting to watch the reaction of adults around Annie and Kerry.  We know they’re bright and articulate, but they’re also quite perceptive.  Helena asked a gotcha question and then admits that she expected the kids to give a far more boilerplate answer than what they actually gave.  In short, she had low expectations for what they were going to say–which is something she shouldn’t have done.  But as Kerry might say, everything is a test, so perhaps Helena was actually testing the kids.  Perhaps?  We don’t know–well I do, but you don’t.

And with that it’s time to close down this meeting:

 

“Correct. Okay, you two, that’s enough for now.” Helena stood as did Erywin. “Kerry, as soon as I hear something back from San Francisco I’ll let you know. For that will likely send you a secure, encrypted document. And if you get one of those—”

Kerry gave a slight nod as he stood. “Read, delete, and clear deleted messages.”

“Sounds as if you been doing this spook business for a while.”

“I know how to take precautions.”

“Good.” Helena waved both kids toward the door. “Go on now. I understand a couple of instructors are taking some kids into Salem for lunch and an afternoon of shopping and relaxation. If you get back to the Great Hall by ten, I’m certain Erywin and I will be more than happy to let you accompany us.”

Annie waved back. “See you both at ten.”

Rather then head back up to the ground floor of the Witch House, Annie and Kerry decided to take the tunnel back to Memory’s End and emerge above ground there. They felt that is no one would be in the comments—at least not in this area school—they would be able to speak freely.

Annie felt she needed to reassure Kerry. “I hope you don’t think that we don’t believe you could do a field operation as a girl.”

He shook his head. “I don’t. Anyway, it was my suggestion I don’t go out like that right away because I’m not sure I can handle—you know—” Kerry tilted his head to the right as if to indicate something. “Like Erywin said, all the hormones and stuff.”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze. “It will take some time you to filter through all the feelings. As Erywin said we’ve had time to learn, whereas you’re going to be instantly immersed. But I want you to know I’ll be there to help you in any way I can, though it may not be much.” She gave their arm a playful swing. “I won’t abandon you.”

Kerry leaned into Annie and rested his head against hers. “I know you wouldn’t. You’re the last person who would ever abandoned me.”

As Annie kissed his head only one thought remained in her mind: I’ll always be with you—until death do us part.

 

Annie seems to enjoy the idea that the boy by her side will be with her until the day one of them dies.  If one didn’t know any better, one might say Annie almost saw the relationship as something of a fairy tale–and given that some fairy tales were gruesome and bloody as hell, perhaps she’s not wrong.  The only question remains there is will they live happily ever after?  Like I’ve said before, I know when, where, and how they die, which means I know how they lived.  I know their happiness, I know their sadness, and I know some of their regrets.

In other words, they’re going to have lives like a lot of us.

Only we don’t get to have real magic in ours…